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The Water Cure

3.26  ·  Rating details ·  19,015 ratings  ·  2,555 reviews
'Eerily beautiful, strange [and] unsettling' Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train

'Bewitching' Guardian

'Calmly devastating' Katherine Angel, author of Unmastered

You are a girl. Your body is vulnerable. Men will break it if they can - and out there, they absolutely can.

Suffering will prepare you for the worst. The cure is nothing compared to what you've been spared
Paperback, 240 pages
Published April 25th 2019 by Penguin (first published May 24th 2018)
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Average rating 3.26  · 
Rating details
 ·  19,015 ratings  ·  2,555 reviews

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Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-mbp
Of course you can slap the label "feminist dystopia" on a book in order to sell more copies, alas, it doesn't make the book a feminist dystopia. Mackintosh's writing is languid and evocative, but there is nothing below the surface - no one will drown in the depths of this story.

In the novel, we meet three sisters, Lia, Grace and Sky, who live in almost complete isolation at a remote beach with their mother (who is reduced to her role and consequently referred to only as "mother"). Their father,
May 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, literary-fiction
This book.

It is so very difficult to describe this book, which is I think one of the reasons why the blurb is so vague. This is the story of three sisters, growing up on an island with their parents where something is obviously not quite right but many things remain vague for the whole book. It is never clear whether the stories their parents tell them of the rest of the world are true or not. I personally adored this vagueness and the hypnotic and introspective way this story unfolds.

Sophie Mac
Hannah Greendale
All the monsters in this book are women.
Amalia Gkavea
‘’We would all still love each other, but what it meant was: if there was a burning fire, if two sisters were stuck in the inferno and they were screaming a name, the only right thing would be to pick the one the iron dictated to save. It is important to ignore any contrary instinct of your traitor heart. We were quite used to that.’’

Had this been a fairytale, it would have started like this: There once was a couple who had three daughters and they lived on an isolated island. ‘’King’’ was the
Apr 04, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
In The Water Cure, three sisters live with their mother and father on an island cut off from the rest of the world. They are taught from a young age that women must be protected from the terror and violence of men, and that the real world is filled with toxins that would degrade and sicken them. When their father disappears and two men and a boy show up on their island, their lives upend. What follows for the sisters is the slow disintegration of their lives that they have always feared.

The stor
Britta Böhler
I'm a bit tired of publicists (and/or reviewers) telling me that a certain book is the 21st century's version of The Handmaid's Tale, and also of the fact that feminist dystopian novels are so hip and hyped at the moment. I read quite a few of them, some good, like Red Clocks by Leni Zumas, The Power by Naomi Alderman and The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood but often not, like by Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich, The End We Start From by Megan Hunter, Genesis Girl by Jenni ...more
Felice Laverne
Sudden love, when gifted to a habitually unloved person, can induce nausea. It can become a thing you would claw and debase yourself for. It is necessary to wean yourself onto it, small portions.

Sophie Mackintosh’s debut novel, The Water Cure, is the story of three sisters living an occult existence on an island off “the mainland” one fateful summer when they have their first experience with men other than their father. Yep, that pretty much sums this one up. Grace, Lia and Sky have been raised
Lucy Langford
May 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Absorbing the guilt and the sorrow is something the world expects of women.

Haunting and thought provoking.

This story focuses on 3 sisters: Grace, Lia and Sky who live with their mother and their father, King, in a very isolated place. They are told that they are kept apart from others for their own good.

There were other women living there with them before, but they no longer live there now. Now it is just their small family who stick to their own rituals and cures- to prevent the daughters from
In this debut novel, three daughters live in seclusion from the world because their parents have told them that men are evil and somehow also – literally – toxic.

The ‘dystopian’ premise is just a pretext for their isolation, because what The Water Cure is really concerned with is the psychological effects of isolation and abuse, and the complicated relationship between the sisters who have had to endure it. Forced by their parents to play cruel mind games and withhold love from one another, thei
Umut Rados
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2.5 stars. I haven’t read such a weird novel since long time. I read the reviews and there are lovers and there are people who dislike it a lot. I think I can say, it wasn’t a pleasant read that blew my mind, but I didn’t hate it as well. I think I can see some people will feel more comfortable with the book than others because of its style.
First of all, it’s said that the book is dystopian. This created an expectatio
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, dystopia
Drowning Underwater GIF - Drowning Underwater GIFs

It takes a gifted author to write a book that is simultaneously beautiful and horrifying. I don't think I could have read this book if it wasn't written so exquisitely; the words flow and submerse you in their eloquent beauty. And yet. And yet, the story is disturbing. It is not for everyone, but it is well worth reading if you can stomach it.

The Water Cure tells the story of 3 sisters who were raised in isolation and taught to fear the outside world, especially men. Their parents, in order to
Jul 27, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dystopia, booker-18
The Water Cure is the first book I selected to read from the recently released 2018 Booker longlist. I chose this one simply as it ended up being the first one I came across in the local bookshop. I went into this blind not even aware it was a "female dystopia".

The writing is initially compelling, told in a sort of dreamy languid prose, the surroundings could be some sort of abandoned, decrepit, beachside resort if not for the unsettling "cures". You are never entirely sure if this family are su
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am wrapping up my quest to read all of the 2018 Man Booker longlist nominees. I have read 9 of the 13 so far and have, surprisingly, enjoyed every one I’ve read. I dragged my heels on this one as long as I could – it has low reviews on Goodreads and its teaser as a “dystopic feminist revenge fantasy” did not exactly float my boat. Really? Did I want to wallow in any more feminist rage this year? Nope. But the only way to the end is through, so I picked this up at the library and decided to suc ...more
Bex (Beckie Bookworm)

Arc Book Review
Release Date-24/5/18

This one really wasn't for me at all and originally I did stop at 39% and it was going to be a DNF.
But I decided to persevere and forced myself to finish. Hoping it would get better.
I’m sorry to say for me it didn’t.
So although on paper this seemed a good fit for me in actuality it just wasn't.
I have seen reviews on "The Wate Cure" praising the brilliance of the prose and yes while I do agree the language used here had an almost fluid brilliance to it it stil
Emily B
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I found the first part of this novel difficult as I could not really differentiate between the female characters that were narrating alternatively. However by the second part only one character was narrating and things seemed a little clearer. By this time I was hooked.

The ambiguity wasn’t frustrating for me as it has been in other reads and I loved the strangeness.
Something about Lia’s loneliness and longing really resonated with me and I found it both heartbreaking and beautiful.

This is a n
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to start this review by acknowledging that The Water Cure is definitely a polarising book- it’s not one that is going to be for everyone. That being said, Mackintosh hit a few of the things I find most engaging as a reader.

I’ve seen this described a feminist novel, and as a dystopia, but I don’t think either is accurate. If you go into this expecting either, you’re bound to be disappointed. Sure, this is a novel about the patriarchy, and in it, women are literally sickened by it. Yes, the
Dannii Elle
This is a dystopian unlike any other I have read before. The world reaches to the very horizon and yet is contained to the interior of one house. The landscape is sparse on concrete detail yet the feel of the forest ferns or the gentle pull and release of the tides is portrayed in startling clarity. The characters are incredibly nuanced and yet my mind can fail to properly depict them. This is a book of juxtapositions that is as uncomfortable to read as it is in construction and I adored every m ...more
Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018

My fifth book from this year's longlist and the first one I find it difficult to be very positive about. Dystopian fantasy has never been my favourite genre, so I don't want to be too negative either.

The plot centres on a family living in isolation on a coast protected by forest in a world affected by a largely unspecified environmental catastrophe. The three teenaged sisters are Grace, Lia and Sky, the first two of whom narrate the story. Their father, k
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I can't decide if this is a simply a cautionary tale against men, against the destruction of our natural habitats, or against society as a whole. There is a power struggle between the parents and three sisters. Even after the "death" of the father, he still played a prominent role in the family's traditions and behavior.

This story was never cohesive at all. The viewpoints switched often and were so similar I had a very hard time determining which sister was narrating. I would note warnings for
The Water Cure was nothing like I expected, but I ended up enjoying it all the more for that. This is a vaguely unsettling, eerie tale of three sisters who were raised by their parents on a remote island to fear all men other than their father. They believe the outside world is dangerous and toxic, and they regularly perform painful rituals and 'therapies' to cleanse themselves. But then their father vanishes without a trace and three strange men wash up on their shore, and the novel takes place ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
The writing in this book, and the way the author is able to describe the somewhat strange setting, is stellar. In the Man Booker Prize longlist wasteland that is 2018, I found it one of the more compelling reads. I love the little backstory italic parts between chapters, the ending and questioning everything, and the sisters. I felt like the story itself, what actually happens, to be less satisfying.

The italics backstory is where the story connects most with other recent books from The Power by
Ova - Excuse My Reading
This was a very intense book- and the most confusing novels I have ever read this year.

The start of it made me feel like I am reading about being damaged by a man, being left, loveless. You know when you get heart ache you feel your family is the one and only place you can get unconditional love, no matter what you are. Then it started getting confusing altogether.

My first issue with the novel was the point of view. It was multiple, but after one point it fixed on Lia for ages. I felt the need
Jun 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dystopian
This book has been labelled as a Feminist dystopian novel. That was obviously done to initially sell more copies, but it certainly doesn't mean that by tossing a label on it, it automatically makes it true. It really, really irritates me, when publishers attempt to get more buyers, by telling us that the book is a modernised version of Atwoods, The Handmaids Tale. I can tell you now, that this book isn't even in the same league as The Handmaids Tale.

I enjoyed Macintosh's descriptive language, a
Sep 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
This book was different from my usual read and that’s why I wanted to read it. Sometimes I find myself drawn to the same types of books so by reading this I was leaving my comfort zone.

The story of a father called King and his wife bringing up his 3 children on an Island away from the mainland and everything toxic!! Sometimes women appear damaged with tales of abuse, violence but mysteriously leave the Island cured.

It is beautifully written and very atmospheric, at times it is brutal and violent
Gumble's Yard
Once we [three sisters] have a father, but our father dies without us noticing.

As a father of three daughters this probably counts as the personally most arresting opening sentence I have read in this novel which I had already ordered but went to the top of my reading pile after its long listing for the 2018 Booker Prize.

On one level this book is a feminist dystopia - and like many dystopias takes an element of the observed world and extrapolates in an imagined but imaginable way. In this
The first word of The Water Cure may be “Once,” but what follows is no fairy tale. Here’s the rest of that sentence: “Once we have a father, but our father dies without us noticing.” The tense seems all wrong; surely it should be “had” and “died”? From the very first line, then, Sophie Mackintosh’s debut novel has the reader wrong-footed, and there are many more moments of confusion to come. The other thing to notice in the opening sentence is the use of the first person plural. That “we” refers ...more
Eric Anderson
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Part of me has always felt a simmering sense of panic, that some unknown danger or threat could be lurking around every corner. Fear can be such a powerful impetus in our lives both for motivating us to keep ourselves safe and hindering us from fully engaging with the world. It feels essential that children should be nurtured in a way that allows them to be cautious without being so panicked they seal themselves off from experience. So I was really struck how Sophie Mackintosh’s debut novel “The ...more
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Water Cure tells the story of three sisters; Lia, Grace and Sky as they live a reclusive island life with Mother and the 'King'. Here they learn that the outside world will harm them, although what that is never known. But then things begin to unravel in a way that the sisters can't control. Is everything, and everyone, really as it seems?

This was deeply atmospheric and strange. It's apparent from the start that something just
Jul 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: man-booker-2018
--- This review contains spoilers ---
--- Trigger warnings: violence, physical and mental abuse ---

3.5 stars.

The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh is the story of three sisters who are all teenagers or young adults. Lia is the main narrative voice taking up all of the middle part of the novel, with Grace and Sky having smaller narrative roles. They have lived on a protected island their entire lives, sheltered from harm and disease. When three men show up on the island, the sisters start to questio
h o l l i s
I feel like this week is conspiring against me reads-wise.

The pitch for THE WATER CURE was THE HANDMAID'S TALE meets THE VIRGIN SUICIDES in this dystopic feminist revenge fantasy about three sisters on an isolated island, raised to fear men and while that concept drew me in.. I think, in practice, it's exactly what failed me because in some ways it lived upto the pitch too well, whilst simultaneously not delivering in the way I expected.

The narrative/voice for Mackintosh's story was really unexp
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Sophie Mackintosh was born in South Wales in 1988, and is currently based in London. Her fiction, essays and poetry have been published by Granta, The White Review, The New York Times and The Stinging Fly, among others. Her short story ‘Grace’ was the winner of the 2016 White Review Short Story Prize, and her story ‘The Running Ones’ won the Virago/Stylist Short Story competition in 2016.


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“Thinking yourself uniquely terrible is its own form of narcissism.” 21 likes
“Refrain of the man, universal: This is not my fault!
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